King Protea for Honey Bees

King Protea_The Bee Effect

Also known as  Protea cynaroides, the King Protea is South Africa’s national flower.  It is unique in that its thick underground stem  carries multiple dormant buds helping it survive wildfires.  The King Protea has the largest flower head of all Protea flowers and amazingly the flower heads are actually a collection of flowers in the center.

The King Protea is unique too in that it has one of the widest distribution ranges of all Protea in the Eastern and Western Cape, growing from the Cedarberg to Grahamstown, along all mountain ranges in this area. All these different climates make for different flower times and flower sizes, as well as flower colours.

Our King Protea is popular around the world, adapting well for commercial growing, it is now grown in commercial quantities in New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii and in Europe and America.  If you don’t have a handy fynbos escape patch behind your yard, these gorgeous flowers grow successfully as a garden plant too.

Protea cynaroides is part of an ancient plant family, the Proteaceae, which had already divided into two subfamilies before the break-up of the Gondwanaland continent about 140 million years ago. Both subfamilies, the Proteoideae and the Grevilleoideae, occur mainly in the southern hemisphere. In southern Africa there are about 360 species, mainly from the subfamily Proteoideae, of which more than 330 species are confined to the Cape Foral Kingdom, between Nieuwoudtville in the northwest and Grahamstown in the east. Protea cynaroides belongs to the genus Protea, which has more than 92 species, subspecies and varieties.”  South African National Biodiversity Institute.

The variety in flower sizes, colours and areas it is found is one of the reasons this ancient flower was named after the Greek god Proteus who could change shape at will.  Expect these gorgeous flowers to present themselves at different times of the year depending on where they are. 


Saving our bees is not just about making less toxic environments for them. We also need to focus on what we feed them. Like us they need a balanced diet. A healthy spread of pollen and nectar from a good diverse selection of flowers to choose from. From these flowers they forage for protein from pollen and they get their carbohydrates, sugars, from nectar. Bee-effective and plant Good Bee Food, for you and your honey bees.

Click here and select your province to find more great plants for honey bees.

Ref: / Beeplants of South Africa, M.F. Johannsmeier

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